A new parliamentary report into the future of nuclear energy in Australia could be the first step in lifting the moratorium on the controversial, but promising energy source.

On Friday 13 December, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy released its report on nuclear energy in Australia. The report has been presented to the Government for its consideration.

The Committee agreed on 6 August 2019 to conduct the inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia, following a referral from the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, the Hon Angus Taylor MP.

The Committee was tasked with inquiring and reporting on the circumstances and prerequisites necessary for any future government’s consideration of nuclear energy generation including small modular reactor technologies in Australia.

“The inquiry will have regard to previous inquiries into the nuclear fuel cycle including the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission 2016 commissioned by the Labor Government in South Australia and the 2006 Switkowski nuclear energy review,” the terms of reference noted.

The report recommends a partial-lift of the current moratorium on nuclear energy, urging the Government to keep its moratorium on Generations I, II and III reactors while lifting it for reactors in Generations III+ and IV, so only the newest and best be considered.

The report also recommends the Australian Government undertake a body of work to deepen the understanding of nuclear technology which would include economic, technological and readiness assessments and also a two-way public engagement program.

Furthermore, the report recommends that the partial-lift of the moratorium be subject to a technology assessment and a commitment to community consent as a condition of approval for any nuclear power or nuclear waste disposal facility.

Committee Chair, Member for Fairfax Ted O’Brien said “nuclear energy should be on the table for consideration as part of our future energy mix”.

“Australia should say a definite ‘No’ to old nuclear technologies but a conditional ‘Yes’ to new and emerging technologies such as small modular reactors,” Mr O’Brien said.

“And most importantly, the Australian people should be at the centre of any approval process.”

The committee also included West Australian MP’s Josh Wilson and Rick Wilson.

The parliamentary inquiry saw the Committee travel across Australia over recent months taking evidence and assessing over 300 submissions on the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia.

To download a copy of the full report click here.

AMMA welcomes the Committee’s pragmatic approach to the future of nuclear energy in Australia.

“Australia has the world’s largest deposits of uranium and exports the commodity all around the world,” AMMA Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Tom Reid, said.

“Putting an ideological blanket ban on nuclear energy is not only terrible for any balanced, science-based future national energy policy, but also sees Australia miss out on thousands of potential jobs that increased uranium production and infrastructure for domestic use would generate.”